Suicide is a crisis in our country, and particularly in the construction industry, which ranks at the top for the number of suicides and suicide attempts. The topic isn't very well addressed as a workplace issue, especially in construction, notes Kathleen Dobson, safety director for Alberici Constructors and a 20-plus year veteran in the construction industry. However, she says, it’s past time to break the silence and stop the stigma of suicide, especially in the workplace.
“Safety leaders must understand how to address the issue and establish best practices in their organizations to identify risk factors and support measures.”
In a presentation for Safety Leadership Conference 2020, Dobson and co-presenter Angela Cloud, safety engineer at McCownGordon Construction, outline the risk factors within the construction industry that can lead to suicidal tendencies as well as how the industry can respond to this mental health crisis.
“We always encourage our employees to be safe beyond work, and we always strive to send them home in the same condition in which they arrived,” Cloud notes. “We must understand this extends to more than just ladder safety or PPE. Mental health plays just as important of a role in safety.”
Safety leaders play a key role in understanding what impacts the mental health of employees, Cloud points out. “It is essential that we understand what we can do to give our employees the help and resources they need to not only be safe on the job, but also in a safe state of mind.”
Click on the video below to watch the full session from last fall’s Safety Leadership Conference presentation on “Crisis in Construction: Mental Health and Suicide Awareness.”